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Flawed and Fair: 5. The Incident
The night air was full of rustling sounds. Some came from the leaves up above, while others drifted in from the valley where the spiders were now gathering, just beyond the edge of the forest. Ecthelion felt surprised by how similar all the noises were; he had been expecting the leaves to sound less evil than the spiders, somehow. He eyed the trees with suspicion. Behind him, Egalmoth launched into yet another attempt to goad Aredhel into action.
"It is undeniable that giant spiders have a better grasp of tactics than panicked Orcs." Egalmoth spoke like a scholar addressing a difficult pupil. "However, I would really like to know where Elves fit into this hierarchy. I want to believe that we are somewhat wiser than spiders, but our current behaviour leads me to suspect that we are dumber than Orcs. At least the orcs retreated while they had the chance."
"It is the spiders who are foolish, for plotting to attack their betters." Aredhel's voice carried no conviction; the moment she was done speaking, she disappeared into the forest.
"There she goes again, visiting the horses," said Egalmoth. "Pacing back and forth is a sure sign of stress. I do believe the valour of Finwe's Grandchild is faltering at last."
"Perhaps she is merely disturbed by our mutinous attitudes," said Glorfindel.
"Why should she be?" asked Ecthelion. "It is not as if we are going to overpower her and carry her back to Gondolin in a sack."
"Maybe she does not know that," said Egalmoth. "It sounds like exactly the sort of thing she would do, if the circumstances were reversed."
Ecthelion had to agree. "And if she had a large enough sack."
"Well, seeing as we cannot actually use physical force, no matter how tempting it sounds," said Glorfindel, "perhaps we should try courtesy again. Courtesy and guile. We could tell Aredhel that we want to return to the city only to reequip: to pick up more horses, more arrows, perhaps even more warriors. And if she says that Lord Turgon is unlikely to support a second expedition once he hears of the danger, then, well, I thought we could tell her that we are willing to conceal the danger from Lord Turgon. Surely..." He turned towards the valley. "Surely lying to her is a lesser evil."
"It is worth a try," said Egalmoth. "Ecthelion, she seems to like you best, right now. Would you be our spokesman?"
Ecthelion believed in getting unpleasant tasks over with quickly. His steps were brisk as he approached the clearing concealing the horses.
Or, more accurately, the horse.
Egalmoth's mount looked rather lonely as it walked up to Ecthelion and nudged his shoulder. There was a length of black-and-white silk tied around its neck: one of Aredhel's scarves, strangely marked. Once Ecthelion had untied it, he saw that the markings were elaborate, aristocratic tengwar, barely readable in the moonlight. He ran back to the others.
"Aredhel is gone," he said. "She took her horse. But she has left us this farewell note."
He shook out the scarf, and started to read it out loud.
Ecthelion paused. Reading a letter meant for another was clearly wrong, but he was far too angry to care. "Well, she did call us her brothers-in-arms," he said. "I will go on."
"The Valley Of Dreadful Death proves perilous. I have no wish to risk the lives of your men any further; besides, one may travel more swiftly and safely than four. I have, therefore, decided to dismiss the Guards—"
"What?" Egalmoth clutched at the fabric. "Does she truly expect us to turn back and deliver this... fashion accessory... to our Lord? To let her go on alone?"
Ecthelion let him take the note; its remaining contents did not really matter, and the three of them had to act quickly. "One of us must take the horse, ride out after Aredhel, and offer what aid he can," he said. "The other two should follow together, with all possible speed."
"No." Glorfindel's tone was uncharacteristically abrupt. He was gazing out into the valley. "Look, the spiders are heading east. They must have noticed her. Perhaps she is even drawing them off on purpose to give us a better chance, hoping to outrun them. We have to protect her, to distract the spiders. We have to attack."
And so they did, without delay. While Egalmoth climbed a tree, Glorfindel and Ecthelion ran out into the valley, yelling battle cries. In the darkness, it was difficult to tell how many of the spiders responded to the challenge, but some certainly did, for soon the two of them were facing an odorous crowd of dark shapes.
At first, they fought together as efficiently as before, and the experience was still intoxicating. Ecthelion found himself becoming rather skilled at skewering the smaller creatures and retracting his spear rapidly and with the minimum of gore. However, the larger spiders remained problematic: their thicker skins were harder to pierce, and their death throes were wilder. One flailing leg struck Ecthelion on the head, knocking him to the ground. As he lay there, something small attached itself to his left elbow. He had to punch the thing several times before it let go.
The rest of the battle was a blur. Ecthelion wandered around, sword in hand, cutting at shapes as they became increasingly visible, and hence increasingly disgusting. Dawn came, every bit as welcome as his occasional glimpses of Glorfindel—still fighting, still alive. The new light revealed that most of the remaining spiders were in far worse shape. He wondered briefly if any of them had experienced an unnatural desire for another spider, or for an Orc perhaps, but he walked around stabbing them anyway.
Once all the spiders had stopped twitching, Ecthelion walked up to Glorfindel, who was examining a wound on his thigh. The blood leaking from it frothed in a strange manner. Poison, then. Ecthelion would have been very concerned, but, fortunately, his dreams had prepared him for just this situation. Perhaps Lorien knew what he was doing, after all.
"We have to drain the poison," said Ecthelion. "Suck it out."
Glorfindel looked down at the bubbling mess. "I cannot... Oh. You mean you." He looked around, at the ground, at the spider corpses. "I need to sit down." The large corpse he chose for his seat squelched when he lowered himself onto it. He leaned forward slightly and let his hands fall across his lap.
"Well, how do we do this?" he asked.
Ecthelion crouched down beside him. The injury itself did not look very dangerous—it resembled a very shallow arrow wound—but its edges were beginning to turn an unhealthy yellow. As gently as he could, Ecthelion pressed down on the flesh around it, hoping to halt the spread of the poison. Then he placed his lips over the wound and drew out a mouthful of blood. It made his lips and tongue tingle before he spat it out onto the ground, feeling vaguely nostalgic for the Sindar of Doriath. In all, the situation was far less erotic than his dreams had suggested, in spite of the pleasant feel of the muscle beneath his fingers.
He had repeated the whole process a dozen times when he realized that Glorfindel was muttering to himself.
"The Place of the King. The Place of the Gods. The Place of the Fountain."
Had the poison caused delirium already? Ecthelion emptied his mouth. "Glorfindel, are you well? You seem to be listing the major squares of Gondolin."
"Yes, so I am," said Glorfindel. "You see, I find that it keeps my mind off things."
Ecthelion felt a stab of concern. "Am I hurting you?"
"No. It's just that I feel a bit... odd," said Glorfindel. "It must be the poison."
Come to think of it, Ecthelion was feeling a bit odd himself. His body seemed slightly numb, except for his mouth, which was itching. He rubbed at it absentmindedly before returning to his task.
"What on Arda are you two doing?" Egalmoth's voice came from very far away.
Glorfindel's leg shifted slightly. "I have a spider bite," he said. "Ecthelion is trying to get the poison out."
"By putting it in his mouth? But poison is, well, poisonous. Has he been hit on the head? Oh, never mind, I can see the dent in his helmet from here."
The phrases floated past Ecthelion's ears like patches of unlight across a rocky valley. Then the dark patches seemed to drift straight into his mind, and merge there into a dense fog, like unlight does. Soon, all was dark.
Ecthelion dreamed that there were arms around him, strong as bands of mithril, but much warmer. He knew it was a dream because he felt no irritation and no shame even when he realized that the arms were Glorfindel's. In this dream, they were in the hunters' shelter again, but it was not night: sunlight was coming in through the leafy walls. In spite of the light, Ecthelion felt chilled, and very grateful for the body heat at his back. His chest was cold, though. He turned around.
"You are awake." Glorfindel's smile was the one Ecthelion had learned to associate with Aredhel, the one tinged with sadness. In the dream it was, of course, meant for Ecthelion and Ecthelion only. But Glorfindel was pulling away now, even as Ecthelion responded to his embrace.
"You must drink something," said Glorfindel.
Maddening dream Glorfindel with his ridiculous games. Was this some reference to the poison Ecthelion had consumed? Glorfindel's thigh, neatly bandaged just where the real wound had been, alluded to it already. Or was it one of those clumsy dream innuendoes? Ecthelion looked at the area above the bandage with anticipation, waiting for Glorfindel to strip, but his hopes were dashed when he was handed a flask instead. He took a sip. The cool liquid made him shudder even though, as he now realized, he was dressed warmly, and wrapped in two cloaks.
"Are you cold still?" Glorfindel touched his hand. "You were near frozen when we brought you here—we suspected that it was an effect of the paralyzing poison, but it was rather worrying. That is why I... why I am here with you. We used to do that during the Crossing, share the heat of our bodies."
"Yes, I remember huddling together for warmth." Ecthelion set the empty flask aside. "Never with you, though; I hardly knew you then. But we know each other now." He moved towards Glorfindel and slid his arms around him again. Glorfindel tensed for a moment, then reciprocated. Ecthelion felt warmer at once.
"I remember visiting your camp to listen to you sing." Glorfindel spoke into Ecthelion's hair. "I know now that you sounded terrible by your current standards, but your singing cheered me. It was inspiring just to know that some among us were still willing to devote energy to something other than mere survival. I remember thinking about how cold you looked... and... Of course, we were all cold, back then."
The real Glorfindel never babbled like this. Anyway, talk of those miserable days on the Ice sounded very strange, coming from someone so warm, so obviously healthy, so... well-built. Ecthelion ran a hand across Glorfindel's back. The muscles under his fingers were too tight to be real. Glorfindel seemed to be made of sun-warmed metal, hard and immobile.
"You do not feel cold now," said Ecthelion. His mouth was at Glorfindel's neck, lips moving against hot skin. He pulled in closer. The feel of the firm body pressed against his own made his head spin with excitement, in spite of his suspicion that, in reality, he was simply sleeping on hard ground again. At least it was a particularly fortuitously chosen piece of ground, with largeish rocks in all the anatomically appropriate places.
"Ecthelion." Glorfindel jerked away. "If you are still cold, we should probably go outside, where you can sit by the fire."
Ecthelion did not feel up to facing the piles of singing spider corpses the outer dreamland would probably contain. "I like it here," he said.
"Well, I need to go outside, at any rate." Glorfindel sat up.
Clearly, this dream Glorfindel was more temperamental than usual. But then, he was also more impressively built than usual: those anatomically suggestive rocks had implied it, and now, as Ecthelion studied Glorfindel's breeches, he found visual confirmation—and felt himself grow almost equally impressive in turn. He realized then that, if he let Glorfindel leave, this dream was going to prove even more painfully frustrating than the last one. Well, he would not let that happen, would not play any more silly counting games. It was his own dream, and he could be as direct as he liked. Ecthelion looked Glorfindel straight in the eye, eyebrows raised.
"You cannot deal with that outside." He flicked his gaze downward. "Let me help you in here."
It was absolutely amazing that someone who would decapitate Orcs without a second's thought could still turn red for no good reason. Glorfindel shook his head mutely, hair swaying against his flushed cheeks, and shrunk back against the shelter wall.
"You want me to." Ecthelion rose up on his elbow, ignoring a strange twinge of pain.
"You know, then." Glorfindel looked away. One strand of hair had fallen across his half-open lips; it trembled slightly as he shuddered. "I admit that I do want it, but—"
Ecthelion silenced him by touching the bandage, then sliding his hand upwards. "Lie back down," he said.
Their eyes met again. Glorfindel's looked almost green in the leaf-filtered sunlight. His pupils were huge, unfocused. He lowered himself to the ground without further protest.
How Ecthelion longed to see the real Glorfindel in this state: breathlessly compliant, stripped of his smug serenity. At least in this dream he could strip him of even more. He tugged on Glorfindel's clothing, baring him from mid-thigh to mid-chest. Yes, this dream Glorfindel certainly was impressive. Ecthelion reached over to stroke his most imposing part, which responded by twitching in a most gratifying manner. He closed his hand.
Glorfindel felt warm against his palm, prompting him to realize that he himself was no longer cold. But how could he feel anything but overheated when he was looking at all that exposed skin, and seeing the muscle beneath it tense with the effort to keep still? Ecthelion's hand moved with the practiced ease of the lonely nights when he could not help himself, in spite of his knowledge that what he did—and, worse, what he imagined as he did it—was wrong. But now it was his tormentor's turn to struggle against desire, and lose. The long muscle in Glorfindel's thigh shifted as his legs slid apart slightly, allowing his tense body to arch upward. The new pose, with its contrast of obvious strength and vulnerability, affected Ecthelion like an intimate caress. He was suddenly uncomfortably aware of his arousal, of the constraining clothes that felt so wrong against his skin. But when he paused to free himself, Glorfindel moaned desperately. That single sad plea tugged at Ecthelion's heart. He could not refuse it.
"Ecthelion, if you... I..." Glorfindel was looking down at himself, at Ecthelion's rapidly moving hand, with a sort of terrified fascination: so might the early Elves have looked when they first beheld the sea. His mouth was half-open. Ecthelion was tempted to kiss him, on the lips or anywhere, but that would have meant losing sight of this dream-vision, so wonderfully detailed and inspiring that he felt almost undone just watching it. And then it was too late, for Glorfindel turned his face into the wall, shivered, and spent across his stomach.
Ecthelion, who had expected a loud cry, was so surprised that he withdrew his arm. For a moment, he just looked at Glorfindel's flushed chest, splattered with pale liquid, and at his tangled hair. Then he moved closer, to kiss and caress and claim his own relief—but, in the same instant, Glorfindel grabbed a handful of leaves and turned away.
The rapid efficiency with which he cleaned himself and straightened his clothing stunned Ecthelion. He felt rejected and cheated, but was not sure how to protest. When Glorfindel turned back to face him, Ecthelion's confusion deepened, for Glorfindel's expression was very odd. It made Ecthelion think of young officers fresh from facing their first defeats on the field of battle.
"Tell me why you did that," said Glorfindel.
The easiest answers—'because you wanted me to' and 'because I wanted to'—seemed too obvious to be of use. "Is that a trick question?" asked Ecthelion.
"It was not a question."
No, it had been an order. Ecthelion's first impression had been wrong. This was no novice warrior, but an experienced captain facing a sudden reversal, surprised but not overwhelmed, trusting in his remaining reserves.
"Well, then, I did it because you wanted me to," said Ecthelion.
"But many people want you, and I seriously doubt you are always so... kind. Such things are not to be done lightly."
Faced with this serious, worthy Glorfindel, so much like the real one, Ecthelion was flooded with shame. This was all wrong—he never felt this way in his dreams. The shame was mingled with a dark dread. Was he awake or asleep? Had he committed an unspeakable act, or merely imagined it? He pinched his arm. When this hurt quite a lot, he tried something else: he crawled to the entrance and looked outside. The forest looked normal. Aredhel's shelter was exactly where it should have been; his spear and sword were leaning against it. There were no singing spiders in sight. No, his dreams were never quite this real.
Ecthelion sat back, and stared down at his hands. He could not look at Glorfindel. Self-disgust paralyzed him.
"What have I done?" he whispered.
"Yes, I thought you might come to feel that way. Like I said, such things are not to be done lightly, not by someone like you. I am sorry that I cannot offer you comfort. I doubt you would want it from me, in any case." Glorfindel did not sound like himself at all. "Now, excuse me. I should go." He slipped past Ecthelion and out into the forest.
As soon as his mortification let him move again, Ecthelion followed.
He found Egalmoth and Glorfindel at the edge of the valley, beside a flaming pile of spider corpses.
"I was just telling Glorfindel," said Egalmoth, "that I have found Aredhel's tracks. When we attacked the spiders, she headed directly east. We can start following her as soon as the two of you feel strong enough to walk; right now, you both look rather unsteady."
Ecthelion tried to focus on the logistics of it all. "Glorfindel should take the horse," he said. "He has that wound on his leg."
"You think I should ride on before you?" asked Glorfindel. "I would be happy to, but we have already decided that we should stick together, now that we know more about that poison. A lone rider seems more likely to get bitten and webbed."
"At least that is our hope." Egalmoth smiled. "Just imagine the joy of finding Aredhel packed in a spider-cocoon. We would not even need a sack, then."
Ecthelion felt so miserable that he could not enjoy that thought.
They set out soon afterwards, following the hoofprints of Aredhel's horse down the road that separated forest from valley. They had only just found their pace when they noticed the first spiders, scuttling around in the distance. It was an unnerving sight—or, at least, it would have been, had Ecthelion not been preoccupied with even more unnerving thoughts.
At first, he could think of nothing other than the shame and degradation of his fall. His self-respect had hinged on the belief that there was a real difference between thought and deed; now that the Incident in the shelter had proven that this difference was an illusion, Ecthelion felt more evil than the spiders, which now seemed to be following them, although at a distance.
As the sun rose high in the sky, his thoughts turned more practical. He realized that he would have to make things right with Glorfindel—but how? He could think of no reasonable excuse for his actions. His first idea, "I was thinking about Idril the whole time," was wrong on several levels. For one, it was insulting to Glorfindel. Then, it was vaguely insulting to Idril, who happened to be Glorfindel's cousin. And, finally, it was obviously the greatest lie since Melkor's speeches in Valinor. Ecthelion was no expert when it came to maidens, but even he knew that the Incident would not translate.
Only when the sunlight softened and the shadows grew long on the ground before him did it occur to Ecthelion that Glorfindel's behaviour had been just as peculiar as his own, and just as hard to excuse. For who could he have seen in Ecthelion's place? He had told Aredhel he was not interested in anyone back in the city, and he was certainly not interested in Aredhel herself.
The implications were disturbing.
He considered the matter from another angle. Glorfindel's recent statements made it quite clear that he was no stranger to passionate longing. And that the focus of his feelings would be a warrior, someone high-minded and noble. Or, at least, a warrior who appeared to be high-minded and noble.
Ecthelion's thoughts hovered around a strange conclusion, making him feel rather dizzy. He reviewed all the evidence: Glorfindel's warm attention, the recent embarrassment and strain, and the name 'Ecthelion' said quite clearly during the Incident. It really seemed as if—
But no, that could not be right—not just because Ecthelion was utterly unworthy, but because, if his conclusion were true, then he would be even less worthy than he had supposed. For it would mean that more than just his own soul was at stake, that he had caused sorrow to someone who deserved only happiness. When he remembered the tense voice Glorfindel had used in the shelter, his clipped phrases, Ecthelion found it hard to breathe.
"Ecthelion?" Egalmoth was standing before him. "Why have you stopped walking? Is your spider bite bothering you?"
"Spider bite?" Ecthelion followed Egalmoth's eyes and noticed that his left forearm was neatly bandaged. "No. I never noticed it. I... seem to be very bad at noticing things, these days."
Glorfindel caught up with them. "Maybe Ecthelion does have a concussion," he said to Egalmoth. "He has been acting quite unlike himself." Turning aside, he busied himself with the horse.
Ecthelion wanted to speak to him, to apologize, to explain—but he did not know what to say, or how to say it to someone who would not even look at him. So, he simply said he was fine, and the three of them moved on, ignoring the growing crowd of spiders out in the valley.
At sunset, the spiders drew closer, bringing with them their protective unlight. Soon, small clouds were drifting across the guards' path, so that, at times, they were walking half-blind. An attack seemed imminent. Egalmoth mounted his horse, and they all drew together.
"Ecthelion." Glorfindel was a ghostly figure by Ecthelion's side. "I think... I hope we can fight side by side, as before."
"Of course." Ecthelion struggled for other words, the ones that would make everything right. Before he could find them, the spiders struck, charging out of the darkness around them.
Ecthelion put it all out of his mind: the guilt, the doubt, the likelihood of death. To his great relief, Glorfindel seemed to do the same, for they worked together at least as well as ever, anticipating each other's moves, trusting one another without constraint. It felt glorious to rediscover this harmony, and Ecthelion decided that dying side by side would not be so bad—at least until Glorfindel cried out and reeled against him, shield ripped to shreds. Then he forgot all such frivolous conceits; all that remained was the idea that he had to defend what he held dear, all that was good in the world, and that Glorfindel was its shining avatar. The world narrowed to a swirling mess of shining eyes, spears, and spider claws. Ecthelion fought on without thinking.
When he came to himself again, he was leaning against a tree and all his opponents were dead. Glorfindel was kneeling a few paces away and cradling his left arm, no longer a symbol, but quite obviously a creature of flesh and blood and pain. There were spiders all around him, a few still twitching. When Ecthelion tried to go help him, he sat right down instead, gasping with pain of his own: his right leg was ripped up badly.
They did not speak; they were too weak to manage it. Silently, they bound up each other's wounds as best they could, and ate some lembas to aid the healing. Then, they moved fifty agonizing yards deeper into the forest and built a small campfire.
"Egalmoth?" Ecthelion asked as soon as he felt slightly better.
"I think his horse bolted," said Glorfindel. "Perhaps he has gone after Aredhel."
"I would rather he returned here. I could ride his horse then, and we could all go after her."
Glorfindel smiled weakly. "Are you turning into Finwe's grandchild? I know your battle rage is impressive, but even you cannot hope to fight spiders on one leg."
"I thought you were an optimist."
"I am an optimist. That is why I believe that we will be able to rest here. And that, tomorrow, you will be able to lean on me and walk without either of us half-fainting with each step. And that nothing much more will attack us, and that we will make it out of this valley alive."
Such beliefs were optimistic indeed, as Ecthelion was well aware. "I have one more hope for your list: that Lord Turgon will be understanding, and will at least let us say goodbye to our friends before placing us on permanent sewer-cleaning duty."
"Maybe you can use your connections to find us a particularly cushy sewer?"
The humour was feeble, but its return signaled that they were starting to think about more than basic survival. Other strong drives were returning, as well. Glorfindel combed out his hair with one awkward hand, and, looking at him, Ecthelion felt the first stirrings of his tormented conscience.
"You should rest," he said. "I will take first watch."
Glorfindel agreed. He stretched out on the ground and turned towards the flames, but his eyes remained wakeful, even as time passed, marked by the throbbing ache in Ecthelion's leg. Was he dwelling on the Incident? Ecthelion decided to speak, to see if he could offer any solace, even if the perfect words still eluded him.
"Glorfindel, I am sorry," he said. "About this morning, I mean."
"I, too, am sorry." Glorfindel turned onto his back, face open to the stars. "More sorry than I can say. I should have been more careful, knowing how you feel about such things. I do want to thank you for your understanding, for the compassion you showed me. But I still think you should not have done it, not at such cost to yourself. Not at such cost to..."
Ecthelion stared at his face, calm and composed in the starlight. A much-watched face, now utterly alien, speaking very strange words. One thing was clear: there was a rift between the two of them, and bridging it was his responsibility. Ignoring his leg, he started to pull himself around the campfire.
"Ecthelion? You should not be moving." Glorfindel sat up and raised his good hand, as if to halt him.
"Yes, I should. There is something I have to tell you." Ecthelion knew that his words made no sense. It made no sense to reach for Glorfindel's hand, either, but he did it anyway. His mind went blank at the touch. All he could say was, "These things are not easy to face, or explain."
Glorfindel looked at their linked hands, his face still impassive. "Well, we are both supposed to be very brave."
"True." Ecthelion sought out his courage. "Here is what I want to say: I thought this morning was a dream. A good dream. I have such dreams often. I... " He shut his eyes. "I am very aware of your finer qualities, and then I have these... unnatural tendencies. I react to you very strongly. Too strongly."
Glorfindel's hand slipped out of his, and for a long moment Ecthelion knew, knew with absolute certainty that he had misjudged the situation. But then he felt a light touch on his face.
"Then it was neither poison fever nor cool compassion?"
Ecthelion could only shake his head; he had exhausted his store of valour. It was Glorfindel's turn to be brave. Glorfindel's fingers moved to the back of Ecthelion's head and pulled him in for a kiss.
Not to respond would have been a most profound lie; Ecthelion leaned in towards Glorfindel and, just for this one time in his life, let himself go. He tried to drink in Glorfindel's warmth, his kindness, his bright courage, and even his pain. He felt Glorfindel match him, felt a hand tighten on his neck, a reminder of strength. In that moment, they seemed to understand each other perfectly, as on the battlefield.
They pulled apart, and inhaled in unison for a while, until their breathing was slow and even again.
"Not compassion, then," said Glorfindel.
"No," said Ecthelion. "Do you feel eased now? Will you be able to rest?"
"I feel eased, yes, but also rather confused." But Glorfindel's brow was quite clear, and he wore a serene smile. Ecthelion realized that he himself was grinning like an idiot. When he forced his mouth to relax, he noticed that his jaw was aching in an unaccustomed way, whether from the smile or the kiss he could not tell.
The kiss. It was hard to believe that it had happened, harder yet to convince himself that it could never happen again. But, of course, Glorfindel's unlooked-for feelings changed nothing; Right and Wrong were just as they had ever been. When Ecthelion felt Glorfindel's hand touch his, he flinched away.
"You spoke once of virtuous warriors honing their honour together," he said. "We will have to try that, I think. This is wrong."
"I see. Oh, I see." Glorfindel's face took on a military aspect once more: he looked like a skilled strategist analyzing a complicated new situation. Then he smiled again. "Yes, I can see your point, but I am too tired to talk right now. We will discuss this later."
Ecthelion moved back to his post and watched Glorfindel drift off. He felt afraid; not because their situation was perilous, hopeless even, but because he knew that his war with his unnatural desires was about to get even harder than the ongoing fight against the spiders.
1. I am quite aware that my version of events is not entirely consistent with that presented in the Silmarillion. But wait until Chapter Seven!
2. Regarding the venom sucking scene: most modern authorities agree that this is a Bad Idea, because the mouth is full of germs. But germs aside, it is still probably a bad idea. Some sources claim that it is impossible to get a significant amount of poison out that way (I saw a study that said you usually get < 6%), while other sources bring up the whole putting-poison-in-your-mouth business.
3. Just before the Incident, Glorfindel is talking about the Crossing of the Ice. This is how the non-Feanorian Noldor got to Middle-Earth: by crossing what would have been the North Pole, had the world been round back then.
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